The Swiss King of India

by ChessBase
8/15/2006 – The sensation at the First Hirabai Salgaocar Tournament in Goa was IM Diwakar Prasad Singh, a 2377 rated IM, who, after a dismal showing as a member of the Indian Chess Olympiad squad, has gone on to win three major tournament in a row. This time he took first in a strong field of 235 players. Here's a beautiful photo report from Goa by Praful Zaveri.

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The Swiss King of India

By Praful Zaveri

The First Smt. Hirabai Salgaocar All India Rating Chess Tournament was held at the Clube Tennis De Gasper Dias, Miramar Beach, Panjim, Goa, India, from August 6th to 13th, 2006. It was an 11-round event with a total prize fund of Rs 111,000 (€1,880 or US $2,390). The first prize was Rs. 33,000, 2nd 22,000, 3rd 11,500, etc. up to 15th Rs 1000.

The event was a sensation because it was won by the newest Indian chess sensation, D.P. Singh, who has scored a hat-trick by winning the Raisoni Nagpur, the Adyar Times Chennai and now the Smt. Hirabai Salgaocar. He finished ha clear half-point ahead of GM Sandipan Chanda in a very strong field of 235 players, consisting of one GM, 10 IMs and two age-group world champions.

IM Diwakar Prasad Singh, rated 2377, India's Swiss King

There are two reasons as to why the First Smt. Hirabai V. Salgaocar Memorial All India FIDE Rating Chess Tournament generated tremendous enthusiasm amongst the chess fraternity of India. The first and the foremost was the participation of the two members of the current Indian team at the Torino Olympiad, GM Sandipan Chanda and IM D.P. Singh; and secondly, the tournament was held at Goa, the most preferred destination of the foreign as well as the Indian tourist, renowned for its exotic pristine beaches and sea food.

While it was expected that the championship would be toss-up between GM Sandipan Chanda and IM D.P. Singh, none had expected the latter to just stream-roll the field. And that is exactly what he did, with some fantastic and fearless display of chess. He remained unbeaten with a score of 9.5/11, and amongst the scalps was none other than that of GM Sandipan Chanda, which DP won in the 9th round from the black side of the Four Knight's Defense!

With this win, IM D.P. Singh has now annexed three back-to-back FIDE Rating Tournaments in India, in the span of just one month after the Chess Olympiad in Torino. These wins must surely have erased some the painful memories of the forgettable debut at the Olympiad, when he had just one game to show against Morocco in the first round. The rise of D.P. Singh in Indian Chess can really be considered meteoric. He has won more than 75% of the tournaments he had participated in during last two years, and he is the only player after GMs Anand, Ganguly and Harikrishna to secure a berth in the Indian team on debut to the National A Chess Championship.

I asked him before the concluding round when he though he would achieve the GM title. His reply: "I just need three GM norm tournaments. That is all!" Well, nothing looks impossible now for this "Swiss King of India"!

Final Rankings

IM D.P. Singh
GM Sandipan Chanda
9 (57)
Umakant Sharma
9 (56)
M.S. Thej Kumar
8.5 (54)
Sriram Sarja
8.5 (50.5)
IM Atanu Lahiri
8.5 (50)
IM Dinesh Kumar Sharma
8 (52)
IM Abhijit Gupta
8 (49.5)
IM Himanshu Sharma
8 (48)
Abid Ali
8 (47)

The games from this event are not yet available. We will provide them if and when we get our hands on them.

Picture gallery

Goa is a state on the west coast of India, on the Arabian Sea. The capital is Panjim, the largest city Vasco-da-Gama. It was founded by Portuguese merchants, who landed in Goa in the 15th century and made it a "Portuguese overseas territory". The area was invaded by India in 1961 and became a state of the Indian nation.

Goa has a population of 1.3 million, about half of which live in urban areas. The literacy rate is well over 80%. Hinduism (65%), Catholicism (30%) and Islam are the three main religions. Roman Catholicism came during the European colonization, specifically with the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama. During the Goa Inquisition Hindus were forced to convert, and thousands who refused were imprisoned.

Goa is internationally renowned for its beaches, which are visited by hundreds of thousands of foreign and domestic tourists each year. It has has become one of the most popular holiday destinations for European travellers. Besides beaches, Goa is also known for its world heritage architecture. It has rich flora and fauna, owing to its location on the Western Ghats range, which are classified as a biodiversity hotspot.

The 600+ km journey from Mumbai (Bombay) to Goa is simply breathtaking

I bet you won't find a better waiting room on a station than this one!

Even the stations have gardens! This is Karmalli Station in old Goa, the entry point for Panaji

We have reached Panaji, the capital of Goa

A warm welcome from Sameer Salgaocar (with the FIDE bag!), the Vice-President of AICF, who is behind the success story of Goan Chess

The venue of the tournament "Clube Tennis DE Gaspar Dias"

The awesome 'Miramar Beach' just opposite to the venue of the tournament

'The Miramar Circle' on the beach front

'Dona Paula', the famous water retreat

A Catholic-Christian statue at the Dona Paula

Beach and palms – the climatic conditions in August are simply fantastic

Football under the palm trees. This former Portuguese colony still retains its craze for Football You will find budding Ronaldos and Figos everywhere!

An open-air market near the beach

The dedicated Sameer Salgaocar and his team at work during the tournament

GM Sandipan Chanda: "Where did I go wrong?"

IM Rahul Shetty – a picture of concentration

IM Dinesh Kumar Sharma

Former Commonwealth Champion IM Atanu Lahiri

And "The King" – IM Diwakar Prasad Singh

My pilot Gaibu Patel taking me for a paid ride! Goa is perhaps the only city in the world with this form of public transportation. There are more than 1000 pilots in Goa. The motor bike is the most preferred form of transportation, if you are alone. The 15 kms ride from Panaji to Karmalli Station is just 80 cents.

The imaginatively constructed passenger bridge at the Karmalli Station

The train is arriving, it is time to leave beautiful Goa


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